Cullen works on deal for senators' return
The 14 absent Democratic state senators will not be back in the Capitol today despite an effort Monday to work out a deal with the Republican side, Sen. Tim Cullen said.
Cullen, D-Janesville, said Monday he was working with "a highly placed Republican" on a deal.
The Democrats met for more than five hours Monday night. There was an offer, a counter offer and a counter to the counter, Cullen said, but no deal as of 9:30 p.m.
Asked if a deal might be worked out for the Democrats to return Wednesday, Cullen said: "I remain optimistic each day."
Cullen would not reveal the name of the Republican or details of the deal, saying it would be counterproductive to negotiate in public.
The senators have been staying away from the Senate chamber since Feb. 17 to stall action on Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill. Without the Democrats, the Republicans lack a quorum needed to pass fiscal measures.
"These are the most serious negotiations that we've had up till now," Cullen said Monday afternoon.
Senate Republicans on Monday stepped up pressure, requiring the absent senators' aides get their pay authorized by Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald also is not allowing Democratic lawmakers or their staff members to use Capitol copiers, saying there has been some "highly unusual usage" of the machines in recent days.
Material from The Associated Press was used in this story.